On Punctum Records

Punctum Records formed in May of 2013 in order to translate Punctum Books’ convivial publishing ethos into an arts-based community. Over the past twenty months, the organization has built a home for a collection of musicians, experimental sound artists, writers, activists, designers, and educators in order to explore alternative methods of support and free expression against a milieu that consistently works to devalue such activities. The keystone of Punctum Records rests in the development of an archive, both analog and open-access, as physical markers of the weight of our efforts and pathways to extended dissemination, generating radical publics that foster a dialogical commons. To date, we have produced over twenty projects: nine full length vinyl LPs, seven works on 7” vinyl, six compact-disc-based albums, one cassette, and one laser-cut USB audio-zine. Genres range from New Sincerity to avant-garde to indie orchestral to psychedelic punk rock, with artists based throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and the UK. In the summer of 2014, Punctum Records entered into a distribution partnership with Sony Music in order to extend the reach of the label to independent and major record stores around the world.

In service of this archive, Punctum Records produces a series of programs and events around the United States: symposia and performances in partnership with Parsons The New School for Design in New York, multi-day interactive music festivals within SXSW, house concerts in Santa Barbara, CA, and unsanctioned shows at secret locations throughout Austin, TX. In October of 2014, Punctum Records engaged in a more permanent physical presence in East Austin by opening Studium, a co-disciplinary space for art and objects, as its global headquarters. Open to the public daily, the 1600 square foot space hosts music events, readings, gallery exhibitions, alternative pedagogy, and critical dialogues, in addition to a storefront for records and books. Studium renders Punctum Records’ mission more physical by constructing a roof above the shared rigorous activity of our community in order to collectively strengthen our voice and resolve.

Punctum Records is directed by Dan Rudmann, a PhD in Language and Literature at The University of Texas at Austin, one-time musician, and former editor for Punctum Books. Rudmann facilitates and develops record projects, artists, and community engagement at Punctum Records, as well as programming and management at Studium. Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Stevens serves as assistant director in developing the organization’s oeuvre and spearheading public relations efforts. Associate director Eileen Joy acts as liaison between Punctum Books and Records, in addition to assisting with development. Punctum Records’ creative and community managers, Taft Mashburn and Catherine Naiser, respectively, oversee the label’s visual aesthetic and internal design. Additionally, Punctum Records launched its internship program in the summer of 2015 in partnership with Austin area community colleges and universities, providing opportunities for education and direct community action for students.

On June 30th, Punctum Records released The Source, the sixth full length album from world-renowned avant-garde composer Cory Allen. The project features self-constructed classically informed acoustic instrumentation from Allen through established performance rules, pitch pools, and guided improvisation. At the end of July, the label undertakes its most ambitious project to date by issuing the recent archive of work by Ryan Sambol. By means of three albums, recorded in San Francisco, Marrakech, and Austin, the project portrays an artist considered “one of the most important songwriters of the past decade.” [1] Forthcoming projects include full length albums by Waco, TX cosmic rockers Lomelda, Austin indie-orchestral phenomenon Mother Falcon, the culmination of Canadian artist Christof Migone's world-wide performance piece Hit Parade, and contemplative atmospheric sounds from Julia Lucille’s Chthonic. Punctum Records has been recognized by NPR, Texas Monthly, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The Wire (UK), and others.

Since opening in October, Studium’s programming has grown to reflect the diverse interests of its community. In addition to regularly scheduled listening-room style music performances, the space will host multidisciplinary art installations by Lauren Gurgiolo sponsored by the city of Austin in August, an environmental conservation effort with Save The Waves in November, a portion of the Annual Meeting for the Society for Ethnomusicology in December, and the Subconference for the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association in January.

In August, Punctum Records and Studium will launch its third tentpole, a comprehensive program in alternative pedagogy called Human Sciences. Human Sciences explores human beings and communities through perspectives that bring together multiple insights, methodologies, and disciplines that have developed to account for human complexity. Relating contemporary theory and criticism to a wide range of human creations — including art, languages, social and economic systems, and rituals — Human Sciences focus on areas of inquiry shared by the humanities and social sciences. With a collection of instructors and an engaged public, Human Sciences will offer a range of classes, workshops, round-table discussions, and community activities.

Punctum Records is currently engaged in the process of registering for 501(c)(3) non-profit status and seeking alternative streams of support for its efforts in music and sound art production, the maintenance of its home space in East Austin, and the development of its radical education programming. While a tide of anti-intellectualism simultaneously attacks educational, political, and social institutions across the country, Punctum Records stands firmly in favor of rigorous, reflective, and mindful endeavors for the public good. As an organization that seeks to promote and foster the arts and critical thought, Punctum Records works to develop a more comprehensive multimodal environment of support and shared welfare, enacting a co-disciplinary approach to intellectual and artistic production.